Alliance sets out full scale of party’s policy ambitions
THE BIG PICTURE
Suddenly Alliance are big on policies. After years in the doldrums the party has its tail up.
It got a ministry for its leader David Ford.
And his deputy, Naomi Long, performed the David and Goliath feat of taking the East Belfast Westminster seat off Peter Robinson.
Ms Long believes her victory led to a rethink in the DUP, which has now adopted some of Alliance’s policy platform on issues like integrated education and a shared future.
By voting Alliance, she said: “You not only change who gets elected but you also change the people who aren’t elected and you move them onto your policy platform.” The full scale of its policy ambitions are set out in an encyclopaedic 148-page manifesto, which, as Mr Ford said, is “the most comprehensive, ambitious manifesto ever presented by any political party in Northern Ireland” and “a detailed analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of our system of government, our public services and much else”.
SOME KEY POINTS
- 20% of children in integrated schools by 2020
- Less tolerance for illegally-erected flags and emblems
- Reduce Government department from 12 to eight and MLAs from 108 to 80
- Full transparency in political donations
- More cross-border co-operation to save money and protect vital health services
- A mutualised water service with water charges
- A Climate Change Act to reduce energy waste
- Minimum pricing of alcohol
- Hold down student fees
FEEL OF THE LAUNCH
The Press conference was brisk, efficient and good-humoured.
Unlike some of the other parties, questions from the floor were shared around leading figures, emphasising that leadership is a team effort.
Ford was at his acerbic best, stating: “It is great for Northern Ireland to say ‘we pay the lowest household taxes of any region in the UK’, until you go and ask for more money and the Treasury says ‘but you pay the lowest household taxes anywhere in the UK’.”